Monday, 31 October 2016

Miss Isabella Frances Akers of Warren Wood Hayes

The Church of Saint Mary The Virgin Hayes contains a black and white marble pavement in the sanctuary and an oak rail in memory of Mrs Frances Whitmore and her daughter Isabella. The work was donated by Aretas Akers Douglas and his sister Mrs Eleanor Mary Norman as a memorial to their mother and sister and were to a design by Thomas Jackson M.A. carried out in 1904/5.
Isabella and her mother are buried side by side in Hayes Churchyard to the right hand side of the Hambro family memorial. Mrs Frances Whitmore died in 1900 and as we will see Miss Isabella Frances Akers died in 1903.
Aretas Akers had married Frances Maria Brandram and the couple had raised their family as he served as a clergyman. Isabella was born on 15 May 1853  but was to become an orphan at the age of 3. Her father Aretas Akers had an interesting family history;the family in the eighteenth century had considerable land and slaves in the West Indies and on the abolition of slavery was compensated by the British Government. Isabella's inheritance was invested wisely on her behalf she held among other shares in the Great Western Railway and is designated with her mother in the census as of independent means.
Their son Aretas Akers who was born at West Malling in October 1851 where his father was rector later changed his name to Akers-Douglas and in 1880 was elected to Parliament. In 1902 he became Home Secretary and later was created Viscount Chilston and had inherited Chilston Park, The change of his name was in accordance with the terms of a family will which provided his inheritance see Wikipedia 1st Viscount Chilston.
Eleanor Mary Akers married Edward Norman in 1875 two years after her mother who had remarried and been widowed for a second time had taken a lease on Warren Wood Hayes Common in September 1873.
I am grateful for the generous assistance of Jean Wilson co-author with the late Trevor Woolman of Hayes: A History of a Kent Village Volume I and her detailed research on the house. The confusion between Warren Wood and the neighbouring house which came to be known as The Warren and still stands today as part of the Metropolitan Police estate is obvious as the census enumerator in the 1881 refers to the House it's lodge stables housing as The Warren whereas in 1891 the enumerator refer's to Mrs Whitmore's Gardeners Cottage and the house as part of Hayes Common. The houshold employed in 1881 a coachman and a gardener and his family as well as domestic servants. In the 1891 census entry a butler cook and four other domestic servants are employed. The house no longer exists but was occupied after 1903.
Isabella Frances Akers was the first elected woman to serve as a Guardian for Bromley Poor Law Union. She was to fulfil her commitment to "serve the women children and disabled of the Union" throughout her years as a Board Guardian and it was typical of her commitment to serve that she died tragically entering the Workhouse to attend a Board Meeting in 1903.
We can with a twenty first century perspective only imagine what the only woman elected to serve on a Poor Law Union Board experienced in an all male Board room. Her ability as a member earned unanimous approval for her proposals and her commitment to orphans and the deserted children of the Union Workhouse emerges most strongly from the pages of Committee minutes. She was the Guardian to join the Boarding Out Committee 5 years after the all male Committee had begun to recruit foster parents in Bromley.
Isabella had worked with the matron of the Workhouse to draw up an inventory of clothing for boys and girls and her attention to the provision of winter capes for boys and an ulster caped winter coat for girls which could be made by women in the Workhouse work room to patterns (by Paton and Baldwin) was the beginning of her work to research formally propose and implement a Committee of Lady Visitors which I have previously written about.  She was to work with the Boarding Out and Cottage Training Homes Association as well as her personal visits to foster parents and children in their care and assisting Charles Gedney who chaired the Boarding Out Commitee in his efforts to obtain urgent admissions to hospitals in London or urgent alternative foster homes on the death or illness of their foster mother.
There are indications that her health had required her to go away for three months on health grounds in her formal notice of absence contained in Commitee minutes but no one at the Union was prepared for the tragedy of her death. At the age of 49 she was in April of 1903 accustomed to travelling by tricycle to meetings at the Union Workhouse. In 1901 the most popular ladies tricycle was the Rudge-Whitworth which replaced their earlier models with a "modern" front brake to replace the earlier fixed wheel brake. I am grateful to the Old Bike Museum for their help. On the23 April 1903 Isabella Akers had ridden from her home at Warren Wood to the Union Workhouse. Without gearing the journey which has several inclines would have been challenging at  Farnborough Common. The Bromley Record obituary May 1903 reports that she had pushed her tricycle up the incline at Farnborough Common remounting at the top and rode up to the lodge of the Workhouse where she fell from her tricycle and died when her heart failed. The Obituary further records that she was unable to speak and great shock was felt by all at the loss of a well respected woman.
On 23 April 1903 at Hayes Church the Rector began the service which was then conducted by a bishop. Isabella was buried next to her mother in Hayes Churchyard.

© Henry Mantell Downe Online Parish Clerk 2013-2016

Monday, 3 October 2016

Guidance on choice of Foster Home in the 1890's

The Bromley Poor Law Union handbook for Lady Visitors in 1894 see previous blog contains both national guidance and local Union guidance of choice of foster home.
Article 4 of the Local Government Board guidance specifies that "not more than two children should be boarded out by the Guardians in the same house unless all such are brothers and sisters and do not exceed four in child should be placed in a home which would result in five children."
Those who had received Relief from the Poor Law Union in the preceding twelve months were ineligible to be considered as prospective foster parents.
Article 5 of the Local Government Board specifies that the creed of the foster parent should not be different to that of the child.
There are within the Bromley Union Ladies Committee minutes examples of the need to face these circumstances. In many examples of large family groups of orphaned or abandoned children the local practice is to try whenever practicable to place siblings in homes to enable them to attend the same school; there are changes of foster carer to bring about such circumstances.
Bromley Union Guardians do however encounter difficulty when Roman Catholic children need to be accommodated. The problem vexes local Roman Catholic clergy and Guardians alike despite exhaustive attempts to attract Roman Catholic foster parents over nearly twenty years  and children who might be boarded out are admitted to a Roman Catholic orphanage in Orpington rather than foster homes. In some cases clergy accept non-Catholic foster parents but organise Roman Catholic schooling in efforts to meet the child's interests and provide Roman Catholic education.

  • Child over seven years of age should never be allowed to sleep in the same room as a married couple
  • No child to be boarded out in a house where an adult lodger is accommodated "this rule is often evaded after the child has been some time in a home"
There is an example in the Bromley Union of the admission to the household of two teenage male lodgers who the visitor interviews and finds "most respectable Gentlemen" nevertheless the foster parent who claims not be to aware of the rule is required to cease the lodging arrangement or have the child removed.

Bromley Union Guardians require reports to them to reflect:

  • The moral character of prospective foster parents
  • that sleeping accommodation be inspected for future as well as present
  • income of the family should be quite sufficient for the child's maintenance without any payment for foster care
  • age and health of foster parents not only for present but for as long as child remains
  • "young couples with increasing families are not as a general rule good foster parents as the children become nurses or drudges"
  • boys should not be placed with widows or single women "they usually grow out of control of women"
  • country homes are as rule to be preferred for girls
Whilst some of these rules seem quaint to the 21st century reader the experience of failing or inadequate foster care contained in the pages of the Committe Minutes reflects the challenges that foster parents faced. The male foster parent who loses employment is faced with a dilemma as to claim poor relief would lead to removal of foster children;the Guardians tend to be pragmatic and make every effort to secure him employment to avert alternate arrangement for foster children.
Sleeping accommodation can be a difficulty as a small child at the beginning of foster care can by age 13 be large and strong enough to enter naval Training and a number of "large strong lads" are considered by Committee.
There are certainly failures in fostering which arise from foster parents inappropriately requiring the child to nurse or perform heavy domestic duties usually associated with declining mental or physical health of the foster carer or introduction of young children.
The presumption that a widow or single woman acting as a foster parent and being unable to control boys is confounded by the experienced foster carers who are widowed and cope with children with special needs or develop serious health problems. There are exceptions to the assumption but there are equally failures to be able to control the excesses of dishonesty including thefts from both foster parents by some children. Young women beyond control of foster parents are also evident and several young women require admission to institutions which are described as strict. In one case detention in hospital for danger to herself and others is described by visitor involved in after care visits.
The Bromley Union certainly began in 1885 with a policy of recruiting in the "country" parishes;however the development of housing in the Bromley Common and growth of the town lead to a rise in foster care in and near the town itself.
The introduction of the Lady Visitor's Committee and reports to Guardians forms a social history of the development of social work and regulated boarding out of orpans and abandoned children by Bromley Union. We are fortunate to have surviving Union records which by the 1900's also compromise a case note for each child recording both their foster care history and after care reports. I will blog about this history as work on this period progresses.
© Henry Mantell Downe Online Parish Clerk 2013-2016 

Bromley Union Kent Boarding Out Committee and Visitors Handbook

The records held at Bromley Historic Collections relating to boarded out children include a surviving copy of the Handbook reference 846GBy/A/W/9 given to Lady Visitors (and Committee members).
It also lists the Committee members and Relieving Officers in the 4 Union Districts and Union Doctors for the districts including the Beckenham Doctor A Primrose Wells of Bournville Beckenham who was male despite his chosen first name.
Miss Akers 1893 formal proposal to form a Committe of Lady Visitors from the constituent parishes of the Union had lead the Boarding Out Committe on 5 January 1894 to approve and submit to the Local Government Board for their approval the following Committee of Visitors.
Bromley              Miss Hay "Parkfield" who died and was replaced by Mrs Beeby London Road
                          Mrs Partridge "Barnfield"
                          Mrs Dodgson "Hayesford"
                          Miss Martindale "Overfield" Bickley
Chelsfield           Mrs Edward Norman
Chislehurst         Miss Willis Lamona Villa
Downe                Miss Harris Orange Court
Farnborough        Mrs Preston
Hayes                  Miss Brett Ash Lodge (Hayes part of Keston)
Keston                 Mrs Dudin Broadmoor Keston
Saint Pauls Cray   Mrs William Nash
West Wickham     Mrs Packe Hawes Down

The Committee was responsible for:

  • the provision of homes
  • superintendence of homes within the limits of this union for orphan and deserted children chargeable to the common fund of the Union
  • a fee of four shillings a week per child up to age 16 for lodging exclusive of clothing school fees and fees for medical attendance medicines and medical extras
  • a quarterly clothing allowance
  • payment of one penny a week to the head teacher for each child whose attendance was to be reported quarterly to the Boarding Out Committee of the Union
  • burial expenses for deceased children
  • payments to District Medical Officers who are to report on health of each child quarterly

Each Lady Visitor was allowed stationery and postage expenses each quarter in order to submit reports and to enter in correspondence with potential employers and employers of those children in employment and after care. The visitors soon identified needs which were not met and with the exception of their Secretary all devoted this allowance to form a fund to pay for fares and other unmet needs of the children.
The Handbook contained Local Government Board requirements and some experience that Miss Akers had obtained from other Union Lady Visitors;in addition the requirements of the Bromley Union are specified. The latter include:
"a member of the Committee should visit each home at least once a month at varying intervals and by surprise keeping a record of her visits and taking special notice of
 the health of the children
the food supplied (occasional meal time visits) "The appearance of the children will indicate whether the food is the right quantity and quality"
clothing "This should be examined thoroughly gone over half yearly.The visitor should observe what underclothing the child is wearing at the time".
 An inventory of clothing issued by the Matron of the Workhouse had to be maintained and recovered if the child was removed from a foster home for any reason. Within the clothing list there are two specific items which within the minutes of the boarding out Committee are proposed by Miss Akers the only female member of that Committee. She proposes that boys be issued with a cape for winter outer wear and the girls receive an Ulster waterproof overcoat. Although commonly associated as a male overcoat with caped sleeves by the 1890's various paterns and styles were available for girls see girls Ulster coat.
In late 1894 one visitor reports to the Boarding Out Committee that she does not in conscience feel able to make "surprise" visits at mealtimes or examine boys underwear. Her continued service as visitor is welcomed by the Committee on the understanding that she will "in my own way" ensure the adequacy of both food and clothing.
The visitors were to report on
the adequacy of accommodation available for present and future accommodation
sleeping arrangements within the household bedding to be inspected "It should be clearly understood that these inspections are not made on suspicion but because the visitor is bound to report to Committee from their knowledge at first hand".
temperance "on no account should a child be sent to a public house for beer or for any other purpose".
In no circumstances should a foster child be returned to the Union Workhouse without the knowledge of the visitor and transfer of children "should be made without removal to the Workhouse". It was the role of the visitor to receive complains from foster parents and in case of requested removal of foster children the visitor was required to communicate immediately with the Board.
There is within the minutes of the Committee ample evidence that Relieving Officers and the Chairman of the Boarding Out Committee and Secretary were supportive of foster parents coping with difficulty with challenging children and every effort is made to prevent breakdown of established care arrangement. The aftercare of children who leave school and remain in foster home and enter work or who enter service is one testament to the strength of these relationships with ongoing correspondence even after emigration reporting on the welfare of those for which formal responsibilty has ceased.
Emphasis is placed on the relationships between visitor and child,visitor and foster carer to achieve a succesful transition to employment.
The Boarding Out Committee minutes record the pain of some children in facing life ouside the Workhouse. Guidance is given to visitors about pocket money "in the Workhouse Schools they have little temptation to dishonesty but when they come out and see shops the desire to buy sweets or other things comes on them and if they have nothing they are tempted to steal".In many cases foster care is not able to assist children who had deeply rooted problems of lying and dishonesty. Some are called before the Committee and leave foster care to enter institutional care in an effort to divert them.
I will blog again about some of the guidance offered as these reflect Local Government attitudes in the last quarter of Queen Victoria's reign.
© Henry Mantell Downe Online Parish Clerk 2013-2016

Monday, 26 September 2016

Bromley (Kent) Poor Law Union children fostered 1885-1902

The Boarding Out Committee of Bromley Poor Law Union minutes in the first volume of held by Bromley Historic Collections record the development of the use of foster care for children in the care of the Union.
The 25 November 1870  General Order of the Local Government Board relating to the boarding out of pauper children formed the basis on which Poor Law Guardians could establish such provision. It was not until 1885 that the Guardians of the Bromley Poor Law Union established a Committee and elected a Chairman to effectively organise the placement of orphans or deserted children in "cottage homes" within the Union parishes. The criteria for children eligible to be placed was changed by an 1889 Local Government Order which widely expanded the eligibility for boarding out.
Although the record does not contain numbers of the children in the Union Workhouse at Locksbottom from 1885-1888 it does offer a clear record of each child and names and locations of their foster parents.
A total of 36 children were placed in 1885 and by 1887 this had reduced to 33. In 1888 the minutes record that 17 boys and 16 girls were located in the following parishes:
Green Street Green         2 boys
Farnborough                  1 boy      2 girls
Chelsfield                     2 boys     3 girls
Saint Mary Cray            5 boys
Saint Paul's Cray           no boys   2 girls
Bromley                       5 boys     4 girls
Hayes                           no boys   3 girls
West Wickham              1 boy      2 girls
Cudham                        1 boys     no girls
It is worth noting that this first group of children up to the beginning of 1887 are generally in settled foster care with few changes of foster parent unless essential and this group of children are visited by Relieving Offiver every two weeks. The Committee advertises the need for suitable foster parents and each District Relieving Officer must visit and inspect accommodation before the Commitee request the foster parent attends and completes a written undertaking before Committee.
In 1888 although the total number of children in the Workhouse is not known 12 children are said to be eligible in addition to 35 children boarded out by the end of 1888 7 children 5 boys and 2 girls remain awaiting foster carers.
The implications of the 1889 Local Government Order are considered by Committee - of 46 children in the Workhouse the Guardians identify 36 children now eligible for Boarding Out. The Committee finds and approves suitable foster parents in the Union so that by August 1889 23 children eligible are either in the Workhouse or in convalescent home at Ramsgate and by the final quarter meeting 8 boys and four girls await approval of Committee. It is also noteworthy that at the same time of this large increase in foster care two orphan infant girls and four months and thirteen months are subject of efforts to place with adoptive parents.
Bromley Poor Law Union had four districts each with a Relieving Officer and district Medical Officer. Both of these Union officers were required to report to the Committee;the Relieving Officer was required to see each child in his district in their foster home and make reports to Committe by entries on the back of report sheets. In May 1890 there remains only one child called Margaret age seven in the Workhouse eligible for foster parents and there are a number of foster parents approved and available to receive children. The expansion of the foster care leads the all male Committee to include Miss Isabella F Akers to join the Committee and this female pioneer is to dramatically change the care of foster children in Bromley. The Commitee also has a severe imbalance in demands upon it's Relieving Officers. It is estimated that around 60 children are cared for in 1890 of which 41 children are in the Bromley district reflecting the growth of population of the town and Bromley Common district. In addition to 82 visits a fortnight there are also responsibilities to escort Lunatics to the County Asylum at Barming Heath recorded in the Bromley Poor Law Union Lunacy Registers. In another district the Relieving Officer has 14 children to visit. Clearly the Guardians need to resolve these pressures.
In 1891 the Act for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children lead the Boarding Out Commitee to take all children in the Union under protection of that act and 65 children are recorded as being boarded out with an additional population of after care for those who have entered training or employment and are funded at either "full pay" or "half pay" by the Guardians.
In 1892 there are 30 children in the Workhouse 9 are eligible for boarding out and 3 for entry into service. Potential foster parents continue to exceed the need for children and Miss Akers by now an influential member of the otherwise male Committe begins to formulate plans to alter the handling of foster parents. In 1893 she gives formal notice to Comittee of a formal resolution to form a Ladies Committee of female vistors to take over responsibility for visiting each child and foster parent and presenting reports to the Boarding out Committee. Her proposal is unanimously approved on 22 December and she works with the Boarding out Committe clerk Robert Gordon Mullen to produce a printed Handbook for Lady Visitors.In January 1895 female Visitors from each parish in the Union are appointed by the Guardians who enter into correspondence with the Local Government Board to approve existing "Lady Visitors" and approve the change in treatment.
Bromley Poor Law Union was by no means unique in forming such a service but it is testament to Isabella Akers thorough work in her proposal that the Local Government endorses it;the only debate is with the Bromley Union custom and practice about paying foster parents for clothes mending and the remuneration for medical reports. Bromley Union subsequently conforms in both matters. Bromley Union records are a rare survival that enables searchers to explore this development in detail.
From early 1894 the Lady Visitors undertake visits to foster parents and I will blog on another occasion about the criteria used by them;one  Visitor Mrs Thomasset declines to follow the handbook instruction to examine boys underwear and the Committee approves her suggestion that she would prefer to visit "in her own way" to satisfy the Committee that clothing and food were adequate.
During 1893/4 the need for Roman Catholic foster parents vexes the Lady Visitors and Roman Catholic parishes as well as Boarding Out Committee. The Presbytery clergy at Saint Mary Cray are eneregetic in reminding the Committe that no child should be cared for by foster parents of another creed. Within Bromley Union no Roman Catholic foster parents can be found despite efforts on all sides and until 1902 this position does not improve resulting in children being boarded out where possible attending church and even Roman Catholic school. It also results in placement in a Roman Catholic institution rather than with foster parents.
During 1895 number of children in the Workhouse fluctuate from 52 in May to 93 during February 1895 but none are identified to the Committee as eligible for Boarding Out.
In 1896 a formally constitiuted Ladies Committe approved by the Local Government Board assumes full responsibilty for the care of children removing Relieving |Officers from visits unless requested by Committe Chairman or Clerk the number of children in the Workhouse fluctuates seasonally between 60-84 children while around 50 are boarded out with a number visited by ladies in after care.
From 1899-1902 only the number of children on full pay are reported to the Boarding out Committee so no number of children in the Workhouse is routinely reported In each year the following number of children are fully funded in foster homes:
1899     40
1900     41
1901     32
1902     33 to May 1902 when the record ends.
It will be seen that this volume of records contains phases of the development of foster care in Bromley. The initial phase found and supported children and foster carers and met the needs of children to live outside the workhouse and attend local village or town schools.
The impact of Miss Akers reforms until her illness in 1901 reduced her contribution and her death in 1903 is enormous and the by the time of her death female membership of the Boarding Out Committe under long serving Chairman Mister Gedney emerges from the record. The relationship between visitor and child continues into adulthood in many lives and the appreciation and support for valued long suffering foster parents is also evident.
It is worth recalling that throughout this period other well known fostering initiatives were beginning;two years after Bromley Union Doctor Barnado was to introduce fostering to help children in his care and other Doctors had developed after care for children from Workhouses. At the time of this record working class men did not have the vote neither did women have universal suffrage.
© Henry Mantell Downe Online Parish Clerk 2013-2016

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Bromley Poor Law Union Children Boarded out

Under an agreement between Bromley Historic Collections and Kent Online Parish Clerks from October 2016 I will be collecting for online publication on the Kent Online Parish Clerks website information about both children boarded out and where possible their foster parents.
This involves research in a variety of sources but is principally involved with two volumes of minutes of the Bromley Guardians Committee for boarded out children and  an 1894 handbook for lady Visitors attributed to Robert Gordon Mullen Clerk to the boarding out Committee.
In assembling a database of children referred to in Committee meetings and their foster parent name and parish or district I hope to guide the searcher to relevant pages of Committee minutes but also enable research to be undertaken on each parish within the union to enable a social history of the parishes to be attempted. Boarded out children attended local schools and school reports to the Committee are discussed each quarter; the funding provided to local school Boards is also revealed. The District Medical Officers reports to each meeting are also informative about child health and development.
The Committee records open in 1885 with an all male Commitee; however the inclusion of a female Committee member leads to the Bromley Union transforming the way in which children are boarded out and in 1893 the Committee unanimously recommends that a provisional Committee of Lady Visitors to Boarded out children in various parishes be formed.
The minutes record correspondence with the Local Goverment Board the approval of the Lady Visitors Commitee and the membership of approved visitors for each parish or district.
One feature of the cumulative mention of each child is a career in both entering the Workhouse foster care leaving school and entering employment. It is possible to see to some extent lives after 16 years of age and I have felt it important to include census references where possible to follow careers at work beyond the scope of the original Poor Law Union records of the individual.
This companion blog to the process will also attempt to illustrate themes to the work and an understanding of the boarded out children in the overall population of children in the Union Workhouse.
As in the case of the Bromley Union Lunatic registers transcripts undertaken in 2015 the role of both Lady Visitors and Relieving Officers are useful in forming a history of the development of the role of Social Work practice in the 20th century. When in 1894 lady Visitors began to fulfill their visits and reports the Union provided a printed Handbook advising of the duties and procedures that they were requested to make and the frequency of visits and arrangement of after care for children when the board of Guardians ceased to have financial responsibity. A copy of the booklet is held at Bromley Historic Collections handbook for boarding out Committee and visitors We are fortunate the Bromley (Kent) has  preserved Workhouse and Union record survivals with such detail. In the family historian's imperative to create family trees such record sources can be overlooked or neglected. It is hoped that this work will bring to life a social history of the period and the signifacnce played by Women locally in the provision and superintendence of homes within the limits of the Bromley Union for orphan and deserted children working also a five mile radius after care visit approved by the Local Government Board.
I hope in future blogs to offer a commentary  about the influential work of the first female member of the Committee who preceded by some years the election of a woman to serve as a Councillor in Bromley and whose work until her death in 1903 shaped the development of foster care for years to come.
Purely from the perspective of One Place Study as a Parish Online Clerk for Downe in Kent the records are valuable in identifying foster carers within the village and the support of villagers to maintain children in the village on the sudden death of a valued foster mother and children in the local school is moving. This is echoed in other parishes in the records.

© Henry Mantell Downe Online Parish Clerk 2013-2016

Sunday, 4 September 2016

The Air Loom in the Bethlem Board Room 2016

In the 1970's I was introduced to the life of James Tilley Matthews who was a patient at Bedlam or Bethlem Hospital from 1797. His insistence that his mind was being controlled by a machine called the Air Loom which he believed was a terrifying French secret weapon directed at the Houses of Parliament in order to bring about revolutions,terror and war was referred to in a lecture at the Institute of Psychiatry
and I followed my interest in the man to the Bethlem Archive and read the accounts in Bedlam Apothecary James Haslam's book published in 1810. The illustration of the Air Loom had lead to a model of the Air Loom being created and this remains in the Bethlem Archive.
In 2003 Mike Jay published The Air Loom Gang and this was revised as The Influencing Machine in 2004.
In 2002 artist Rod Dickinson fulfilled a Commission and constructed the installation and audio soundtrack accompanying it for the Laing Gallery Newcastle. The audio soundtrack is available on Google Play and Rod's website on the link above enables the app to be downloaded as well as illustrating the installation.
When the former administration building was transformed to form the Gallery and Bethlem Museum of the Mind it was hoped to allow public access to the Board Room; the installation of The Air Loom coincides with the opening this autumn of the panelled boardroom which includes a chandelier from Bridewell.
The Air Loom was introduced to visitors on 3 September 2016 by Rod Dickinson in a talk about the influence of James Tilley Matthews on subsequent generations.
Essentially Matthews conceptualised a desktop with two giant levers and black and white keys which an operator could manipulate to influence an individual or group of people. Rod pointed to the use of desktop and desktop icons some 200 years later. He also showed a succession of concepts of Influencing machines in the 20th century including ken Adams designs for the set of the 1965 film The Ipcress File.
Although the installation has travelled to Germany it seems strangely at home in The Museum of the Mind and has attracted great interest this week. The installation in the Board Room will remain for six months;it remains to be seen what effect on the NHS Trust board who will continue to meet in the room will have on their governance of the Trust!
The Board Room contains the panelled walls removed from the Bethlem Hospital at Saint George's Fields (now site of the Imperial War Museum) a chandelier from the Bridewell and heraldic shields of the past Presidents and Treasurers of the bethlem Hospital since 1558.
The opening of the Board Room completes the  experience of the Museum of the Mind and Bethlem Gallery experience for members of the public and is another reason to attract the public to the collections conserved by the Archive. For details of opening times visit Bethlem Museum of the Mind  

Saturday, 2 July 2016

Reverend Thomas Bagshaw's order of 1785

Reverend Thomas Bagshaw was Vicar of Bromley, Kent from1744-1785 in succession to his father Reverend Harington Bagshaw vicar from 1698-1744. One of the historic entries on the Sextons Account which I have recently transcribed at Bromley Historic Collections (formerly Bromley Archives) is a page long entry of Thomas Bagshaw's "order" in March 1785 and  a separate list of person's to be "observed" as a result of marriage outside the parish whilst both living in it.
This era of ecclesiastical law in Bromley parish had included the penance of Ann Chapman whose promiscuity resulted in her giving birth to several illegitimate children and being called to "stand in a white sheet" in the church see my blog.
The entry relating to 1785 reads:
"List of those persons the the Reverend Mister Bagshaw has required proof of their marriage before he would church the woman
Kelly uptown
Mary Proudlove
Simon Hill
Skinner the Farmer
Mrs Townsend at Wigmore
ordered by him in March 1785 that those persons who marry out of the Parish if both live in it shall pay the same fees or he will sue them for it and they shall bring a certificate of their marriage otherwise he will not church the women".
The churching of women after childbirth is the ecclesiastical ceremony in which a woman is given blessing after childbirth. It was particularly significant to women who had still born children at this time.
On the same page in a separate entry are the names and occupations or spouse of three people to be "observed" presumably because they had married outside Bromley and had not paid fees to Mister Bagshaw.
This period of Bromley history had demonstrated the force of ecclesiastical law and the later bitter dispute between Bromley's Vicar and vestry over the appointment of Parish Clerk and the Vicar's sale of timber from trees in the churchyard showed that considerable power resided in law with the incumbent in a parish.
It is not known how these individuals were dealt with in 1785 when Thomas Bagshaw gave up the living.